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Old 04-08-2013, 10:42 PM   #1
limenuke
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E39 fun car purchase

Looking at a decent mileage (230k km) E39. Driven by old man. 6 speed,

Really interested in it. I was able to put up with a ratty old rusted and neglected E36. This one looks like it doesn't have any stupid amounts of damage, little/no body rust, but a small chip of rust on the lip of the trunk.

What is there to look out for on a 540i from 1998? Seller says he needs the seatbelt holster replaced (had it done in my old E36 as well), the ABS sensor and an o2 sensor.

Things I tend to be worried about on old BMWs
1) Plastic cooling system ready to fall apart?
2) Motor mounts getting weak (and potentially ****ing up the entire car on a hard launch, like my E36)
3) E36 had subframe issues. What about the E39?
4) Trunk wireharness dying.
5) E-brakes dying (oh god I don't want to buy MORE backing discs and deal with those god-damn drum brake springs)
6) Potential syncros problem...will have to test drive to know if there's a problem here.
7) Dying bushings EVERYWHERE.

Anything I missed? The car looks to be a beauty and well taken care of which is why I'm actually considering purchasing it.

It's a V8 so...is it safe to assume it'll be a pig on gas? 11-14L/100km?

That said, how much should I expect to pay to upgrade to a set of clear headlights?

Thanks guys!

(EDIT: I've already read through the stickies, so no sense in asking me anything about that!)

Last edited by limenuke; 04-08-2013 at 10:55 PM.
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Old 04-09-2013, 12:07 AM   #2
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Here are the few things about the E39, and other M62 V8's:

Anything over 180K is a ticking time bomb if chain/guides are not done.
Rear springs tend to go every few years, car is too heavy for them.
Cluster and radio pixels will die sooner or later, if not already.
Cupholders will get broken.
Door handels will get broken, both inside and outside.
Rear window regulators will go.
Oil leaks.
Power steering leaks.
Oil filter housing mounting "rubbers" will give.
Wood trims will crack, if not already...

With the bad stuff out of the way, I must say they are great cars, if you DIY most of the things you will save BIG $$$, and it only takes some time and basic tools...
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Old 04-09-2013, 12:12 AM   #3
limenuke
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Fil! I can always count on you for great advice.

Chains and guides are engine work. This sounds pricey, and scary. I'm guessing the design of the M62 is just not nearly as robust as the M52 that I once had in my E36?

Door handles will get broken - physically or electronically? This car has 230k km and looks like it was handled by an old man for a while. I'm not sure how much life the car has left in it.

I'm in Waterloo and the only shop I know of is German Autotech. However, I've heard mixed reviews. How many of the problems that you mentioned do you think an average auto garage (or can you recommend a german auto garage) shop should be able to identify? I assume the all the leaks and the rubbers should be easily seen, as well as the springs.

The chains and guides won't give any indication will they?
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Old 04-09-2013, 12:31 AM   #4
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Yes, they guides are not cheap...$1K up, and need to be done right. Engine noise is the indication...mostly at start up and idle.

Door handles are physical, door actuators are electronic! (forgot about them!)

I know a few shops that work on a lot of BMW's in the area, gotta find the #'s tho...
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:43 AM   #5
limenuke
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How unfortunate! i don't plan to be committed to this car for longer than 1.5 to 2 years. Spending that kind of coin on a car that already has 230k and is far from an example of a perfect e39 seems little crazy. Maybe I can get it off the owner for less if I point these issues out but I somehow doubt it.

What's your take on buying old e39 V8s then, fil? If it ain't a perfect one that you want to keep, stay away? With an entrance price tag of no less than 1 k on the car for reliability, I'm not so much scared for my wallet as I am concerned as to whether this is a good way of spending my money. Hmm.
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:20 AM   #6
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stay away from them, they like suspension parts and they cost alot to fix
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:18 PM   #7
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stay away from them, they like suspension parts and they cost alot to fix
rofl, *sigh* I miss my 540 but it sure was a money pit
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:13 PM   #8
limenuke
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Everyone seems to say their E39 is a money pit. This is probably going to be true then, but I don't know over what period of time they become money pits.

I only want to hold on to the car for 1-2 years as I'll probably be leaving the country after university to pursue a job in the valley.

The 540i I've been looking at has had the following work done:
-Water pump replaced < 2 years, ago w/ all belts+tensioners.
-Rear bushings, rear RH LCA bushing replaced, rear shocks and rear wheel bearings replaced within the last 2 years.
-New radiator (did the old one get smashed in? dying motor mount? hmm?)

Car currently only needs new ABS sensor & O2 sensor it seems. Body is in good shape (rust chip on back trunk lip) w/ no frame rail rust. 235000k on it. It's a 6 speed.

Price is in the 3k region. Sounds like a steal but with the way you guys are talking about the e39, I'm very worried that the first trip to a shop to get a safety is going to run me a bill of 1.5k or more. I'd have to get it inspected before the purcahse, for sure. I made the mistake of not doing that when I bought my E36.
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:34 PM   #9
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I think you should be able to get it closer to $2K, with milage and work needed. Just drive it, untill it drops and sell for parts...

This is what i'm planning for my 740il winter beater; its been 10K km already, i know the torque convertor is on its way out, the only things i fixed was window regulators and some small things to fix my CEL, and its been going great so far!
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:31 PM   #10
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stay away from them, they like suspension parts and they cost alot to fix
I wouldn't go that far,they are now a 14 yr old cars.and I just picked up a spare 6 speed for 350.
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eurostyle View Post
Here are the few things about the E39, and other M62 V8's:

Anything over 180K is a ticking time bomb if chain/guides are not done.
Rear springs tend to go every few years, car is too heavy for them.
Cluster and radio pixels will die sooner or later, if not already.
Cupholders will get broken.
Door handels will get broken, both inside and outside.
Rear window regulators will go.
Oil leaks.
Power steering leaks.
Oil filter housing mounting "rubbers" will give.
Wood trims will crack, if not already...

With the bad stuff out of the way, I must say they are great cars, if you DIY most of the things you will save BIG $$$, and it only takes some time and basic tools...
And what this guy said,he dose know his stuff..but I did own a 300 k 540 once and the motor purrred. And I did pick up my 540 for a good deal off a buddy so that helped.

Last edited by 2bmwguy; 04-09-2013 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 04-09-2013, 10:36 PM   #12
limenuke
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The going rate on Kijiji in Toronto for these cars seems to be around 5k-6k (looks severely overpriced). You guy here on maxbimmer thinks this vehicle is worth no more than 2k-3k. Is there a reason why you guys think this car is actually worth much less than kijiji price?
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:24 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by limenuke View Post
The going rate on Kijiji in Toronto for these cars seems to be around 5k-6k (looks severely overpriced). You guy here on maxbimmer thinks this vehicle is worth no more than 2k-3k. Is there a reason why you guys think this car is actually worth much less than kijiji price?
Because people on Max are lowballers and some people on kijiji are dreamers.

Anyway, for 3K ( a small invest for a car), if the car is CURRENTLY in good running order, buy it and drive it with normal maintenance. Once something major happens (may or may not happen) unload it for parts. You have to keep in mind that it is an OLD, EURO car with 230K, you can't expect it to last forever (especially the V8's) if you don't want to fork out the money to maintain a 60K+ car.
Another (debatable) note on the timing chain guides, they suffer premature failure mainly due to poor oil change intervals. Just a little FYI.

For example, IMO, a lot of the things that people mention as big/common issues on e39's are just mainly due to age, front end components lasted 150K, now the car has 200K and no one has done them, well of course they need to be done, its maintenance.

Anyway, good luck, but if you are worried about longevity, I would look at the 528/530's and not buy based on price.
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:27 PM   #14
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I bought my '97 540 about 5 years ago with 98,000 km on it. Mint inside and out, and it came with a set of snows and rims. It now has about 180,000 km.

It has been one of the best cars I've ever owned. Some of things listed above HAVE happened. One inside door handle broke, both rear window regulators puked, and the cup holders have all broke at one point or another. The display was replaced shortly before I bought it. Handle and cup holders are easy fixes, and I have a kit to repair the rear regulators, just haven't got around to doing it yet. I had to replace a cam position sensor a couple of years ago. Took about 10 minutes.

Other than that, I've changed the oil regularly and the brakes have been replaced. That's it.
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:47 PM   #15
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because people on max are lowballers and some people on kijiji are dreamers.
lol
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